Monday 22 February 2016

Hail, Caesar! ... Hailstorm of criticism

A COEN brothers film is something to look forward to, but their latest flick, Hail, Caesar!, which
mocks the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s, is a disappointment. It has delightful and funny individual moments, but taken as a whole, it deserves to be crucified.
   There's only scene that grabs my attention, and it's a ghastly one. The scarf of an editor (Frances McDormand, who won a Best Actress Oscar for the Coen brothers' Fargo) gets stuck in an editing machine and nearly chokes her. I don't know whether to laugh or appreciate the brothers' morbid instincts.
  Josh Brolin, who appeared in the brothers' No Country For Old Men, plays studio fixer Eddie Mannix, who puts out flames caused by egoistical actors.
   He's a devout Catholic who's obsessed with going to confession. He pours out out his sins to the priest, no matter how trivial they are, for example, he lied to his wife regarding him quitting smoking. This is nonsensical reason for many, but for Eddie, honesty is the core of his system.
   At the end of the day, he just wants to know whether he did everything by the book. He's put under more pressure when an aircraft maker tempts him to switch jobs with offers of better pay and better working hours. The aircraft official even proffers a cigarette to him. 
   The film focuses on one day of Eddie's crazy life. Veteran star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) 
Josh Brolin sorts out George Clooney.
plays a Roman soldier in a film about Christ called Hail Caesar! A Tale of the Christ. He's kidnapped by a group of Communist screenwriters who attempts to win him over to its cause. Eddie's race to find Baird takes up most of the film.
   Scarlett Johannson plays unwed swimming musical star DeeAnna Moran, who has a hard time getting out of her mermaid costume, no thanks to her pregnancy. Eddie has to figure out how to deal with her situation. 
    Alden Ehrenreich plays singing cowboy Hobie Doyle, who has made a name for himself playing cowboys who mostly grunt to communicate. 
   He's put in spot when he's asked to wear a tuxedo for fey director Laurence Laurentz's (Ralph Fiennes) drama. Laurence is particular about how people pronounce his name, but he's has even more problems getting Hobie to utter a few lines with the right pronunciation and emotion. 
   Channing Tatum sings and dances in a musical that's reminiscent of a Gene Kelly number.
  Tilda Swinton plays twins who are rivalrous gossip columnists.
   Eddie is the key to understanding this film. It's no surprise that he's a devout Catholic who's focused  on doing what's right, while Baird is appearing in a film about Christ. In one scene, viewers see
Scarlett Johansson fishes for her crown.
Eddie fiddling the beads of a crucifix. At the start of the film, he saves a naive and drunk actress from being photographed by a leery photographer.
   He saves his subjects from their sins and takes it upon himself to maintain the sanctity of his studio.
   Hail! Caesar gently mocks the studio system and the goofiness of its big stars, especially the character played by Clooney. The film gathers four religious leaders to get them to sign off on the Christ character in the film, and they end up in a comical discussion about Christ's parentage.
   The film is decent in showing us small laughing moments, but it slumps with the Communist cabal's part. 

2½ out of 5 stars
Channing Tatum gets a bum rap.


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